When it comes to winter comfort foods, one-pot dishes, soups and stews are a given – especially in the Japanese culture. Winter is the perfect time to cozy up, enjoy the snowfall, and make some of your favorite Japanese winter comfort food recipes.
Japanese Winter Comfort Foods
Chanko Nabe is a traditional hot pot dish of stock, vegetables, and meat or seafood cooked together in a single pot. It can, in fact, be just about any form of nabe (one-pot) cooking, but traditionally it is chicken-based. The dish is a classic Japanese comfort food, and is a traditional staple. It’s also a favorite of a sumo wrestler diet!
My version of Kanto-style Oden is slightly unorthodox, as it includes a relatively small amount of processed fish paste products. Nevertheless, Oden is the quintessential Japanese dish for when winter arrives. Oden is another one-pot dish of various savory goodies simmered together. It has been sold at mobile street food stands, also called yatai, since the Edo period. For some Westerners, the flavor of oden can be somewhat of an acquired taste, but once you get used to it, you are likely to find yourself craving this Japanese comfort food the next time the weather turns cold.
Sukiyaki is a delicious winter dish often cooked in a nabe or cast iron pot. Uosuki is a form of fish sukiyaki, a famous regional dish from the Osaka area that originated on fishing boats in the Inland Sea. Fresh catch was quickly cut up and added to a nabe of simmering stock that was sweet and salty (amakara); the stock was said to hide the fishy smell.
Chawan-Mushi: Savory Custard
It’s hard to categorize chawan-mushi: it can be classified as a custard, a soup, or both. The hardest part of making chawan-mushi is the cooking time as it will take practice to get it right. It’s not only a matter of steaming until the custard sets, but the steaming time also depends on the type of container used and the amount of bubbles in your custard.
Kurigohan (chestnut rice) is another seasonal treat, a beloved favorite during the colder months, and one of my favorites. There are two rice dishes, in fact, that typify the start of colder weather in Japan. One is made using matsutake mushrooms, often called “the truffle of the East”. The other, of course, is chestnut rice, which uses inexpensive ingredients and can be enjoyed and savored almost everywhere.
Jibuni is a special regional recipe of poultry and vegetable stew eaten not only as a seasonal daily dish in Kanazawa but also served on many special occasions. Jibuni is actually one of my favorite Japanese winter comfort dishes!
Salmon and Vegetable Tonjiru Soup
Salmon and vegetable Tonjiru soup is a classic hearty umami-flavored miso-based soul-satisfying soup, usually made of pork in the winter. Ton is defined as pork, and jiru meaning soup. Be sure to read over a basic miso soup recipe and then enjoy!
Tori no Hizikuri
Tori no Hikizuri is a definite comfort food and is usually cooked right at the dining table! I love to serve this when entertaining. Everyone gets a kick out of it being cooked in front of them! It is also an easy recipe, which is always a bonus.
In Japan, winter comfort foods are a given as food and seasons go hand in hand. After a particularly cold winter day, nothing beats a dinner of delicious Japanese winter foods. Whether you’re new to Japanese cooking or looking to add recipes to your repertoire, these are sure to be some new family favorites!